Clearly written and masterfully argued, Tom Petrie presents a convincing case that debunks the plethora of mainstream media articles that have been directed with obvious bias to promote the notion that vitamins and other dietary supplements possess no health benefits, and might even cause us harm. Mainstream Media’s Anti-Vitamin Agenda should be required reading for professional healthcare practitioners, their students, and for anyone interested in achieving and sustaining optimal health…
Joseph L. Evans, Ph.D., author, The Secret Life of Mitochondria; Founder and President, P & N Development Ventures; Saint Louis, MO
he Mainstream Media’s Anti-Vitamin Agenda is the source for any person told by their doctor that there is no evidence that vitamins work. Tom Petrie lays out the evidence for the reader in a compelling and influential way. The best thing about TMMA-VA is that it is authentic from beginning to end, presenting the facts at which mainstream medicine and the media refuse to look. You can feel confident that the information in this book will guide you in making the right choices, so that you can keep yourself and your family in optimal health.
Dr. Charles Glassman, Coach MD, author of the award-winning, bestseller Brain Drain and founder of the NY Center for Longevity & Wellness
An important study on the way the mainstream media distorts the benefits of nutritional supplements… Read this book to become better informed on this important issue.
Jeffrey C. Kopelson, M.D., Schachter for Complementary Medicine; Suffern, NY
Cornell University Graduate and Certified Dietitian/Nutritionist Tom Petrie has reviewed the media coverage of the growing epidemic of chronic illness across America. In his superb book The Mainstream Media’s Anti-Vitamin Agenda he outlines the media bias in any study or report on Vitamins and to the false conclusions that vaccines have made our children healthier. He points to the hundreds of studies pointing to the conclusion that to make one’s immune system ‘smarter’ is accomplished by minimizing vaccine use and also by a smartly chosen supplement programs. A must read and a great reference. Kudos to you Tom for writing this excellent publication.
Mayer Eisenstein MD, JD, MPH, Medical Director Eisenstein Medical Centers, Chicago; Author Don’t Vaccinate Before You Educate and four other books; (Sadly, Dr. Eisenstein passed away, Dec. 22, 2014, as this book was going to press.)
Excellent—especially Appendix A Very much needed and well done!
Barbara Kravitz, C.C.N., Nutritionist
Your wonderful book “Mainstream Media’s Anti-Vitamin Agenda” was the perfect antidote to all of the Vitamin maligning press that has scared many folks away from taking control of their own health and seeking alternative health options. I found your book to be very clear and well researched, many controversial vitamin issues were cleared up for me, and I am now more confident in my choices regarding vitamin supplementation!! Much Gratitude!
Susan Nevins, Nanuet, NY
As a practitioner of Orthomolecular Nutrition, I am acutely aware of the Mainstream Media’s Anti-Vitamin agenda. Tom’s book by the same name accurately illustrates the decades-long battle by the Pharma Industry against vitamins and other nutritional supplements. Their goal all along has been to promote all patented drugs while discrediting any natural alternatives, dismissing them as unproven or ineffective therapeutically. Recent media coverage of the important role of Vitamin D is still dismissive of its tremendous impact…once again minimizing any possibility that any vitamin has an important role in promoting longevity. Congratulations and thanks to Tom for his passion on this subject.
Dr. S. B. Kanner, N.D., Kanner Paradigm for Health, Yonkers, NY
About the Author
Thomas C. Petrie, C.D.N. is a graduate of Cornell University with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition. He was a Nutritionist with the Pritikin Longevity Center* in Santa Monica, CA and a Nutritionist for the Total Health Foundation in Albany, NY. He also worked as a Nutritionist and New Patient Services Coordinator with the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine in Suffern, New York. He has been a guest on local radio and TV. (C.D.N. stands for Certified Dietitian/Nutritionist and it is a title given out by the New York State Department of Education and it means that I can tell YOU to eat fruits and vegetables—in NY State, and you can’t get mad!)
He recently completed a book on the subject of preventing and reversing heart disease. The title is: Cardiac Survival: Your Keys to a Healthy Heart and Squeaky Clean Arteries, (publication, pending, Llumina Press, 2015).
For you twitter fans, his hashtag is @vitaminsDOwork.
The Mainstream Media’s Anti-Vitamin Agenda, How They Continually Cover-up or Distort the Proven Health Benefits of Vitamins, by Thomas C. Petrie, C.D.N., Nutritionist
The Mainstream Media’s Anti-Vitamin Agenda ; formerly Anti-Vitamin Baloney, © 2011, Thomas C. Petrie, C. D. N.
© 2015, All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from both the copyright owner and the publisher. (The e-book version, of course, is expected to be stored in the owner’s computer.) Also, small portions can be reprinted if used for study or review purposes if proper credit is given, and without any special permissions necessary.
The Mainstream Media’s Anti-Vitamin Agenda is the new edition of Anti-Vitamin Baloney, (2011), and it remains true to its original purpose: As a detailed and well documented rebuttal of several “anti-vitamin” articles that have appeared in the mainstream media. Two of them were from the Reader’s Digest. They are The Vitamin Myth, (or a different title for the cover, The Vitamin Hoax 10 Not to Take), from their November, 2007 issue and Vitamin Truths and Lies, (with The Vitamin Scam on the cover), from their April, 2010 edition. They sure wanted to be creative in bashing vitamins, didn’t they? One title for their covers and another for inside their magazine in both cases.
In the 2007 article, we were implored not to take vitamins A, beta-carotene, folic acid, niacin, vitamin C, vitamin E and the essential minerals selenium, iron and zinc. Wow—some of the most popular supplements out there and we’re…not supposed to take these? What’s going on here! Don’t worry—you’ll receive a detailed answer, in a way that should make sense to you, as to why this popular monthly magazine—and most of the rest of the mainstream media, for that matter, was, (and continues to be), wrong on this topic of vitamins and other nutritional supplements.
This book can also serve as a framework or guide with which to understand (or even appreciate), any absurd anti-vitamin article—examples that, all-too-often, populate our mainstream media today.
Chapter 12 is a NEW chapter for the 2nd edition of Anti-Vitamin Baloney, and discusses two recent additions to the anti-vitamin literature from the Archives of Internal Medicine and from the Journal of the American Medical Association. Like other anti-vitamin articles, these two studies have caused much angst and dismay across America. This chapter explains why these articles present nothing about which you need to be concerned and why you probably do not have to throw your supplements into the garbage!
For about the past fifteen years, there has been an ever-increasing appearance of studies supporting the positive health benefits of Vitamin D. Despite this fact, some writers still ignore these positive studies, and if they do not ignore them outright, choose to denigrate or disparage them, instead. This subject is further discussed in our new Chapter 12.
Chapter 13 explains in detail some of the reasons there are so many negative vitamin articles and you’ll probably be shocked by what you learn! When you’re finished reading this book, you’ll have a better understanding as to what’s wrong with these various negative vitamin articles and you’ll also learn why there are so many, not just in the Reader’s Digest, but across our mainstream media landscape. Hopefully you’ll rest easier if you are one of the millions of Americans who take dietary supplements on a regular basis.
Appendix A discusses environmental factors in cancer causation so often ignored by the mainstream media but to which we very much need to pay attention! Why are THESE topics not discussed in the mainstream media but so much attention is paid to bashing vitamins? This is a good question and it is my fervent hope that I provide answers that are clear and make sense to you.
Finally, this edition…has an index! Now, if you want to find where a certain item is discussed, you can find out quickly, with our modern index. This could also prove helpful for a student who, for example, wants to do a really interesting term paper on, say, “Vitamins and the mainstream media,” and happens to be lucky enough to have this book. What?—a student reading a book on vitamins? How funny is that?! Ok, I was reading Adelle Davis, “Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit,” when I was 14, a gift from my mom! Wouldn’t it be cool to have a nationwide trend…our adolescents reading vitamin books?!
Table of Contents
|Forward to the New Edition||iii|
|Parts I & II|
|An In-Depth Critique of The Vitamin MYTH a Cover Story: THE VITAMIN HOAX 10 Not to Take, Reader’s Digest, Nov., 2007 (by Neena Samuel)|
|1. The Myth of Increased Death/ Little Oversight, from Multi-vitamins;||7|
|2. The Case of the ‘Missing’ B-vitamins||15|
|Part II (There were ten we were told “not to take”! Here are nine of these…)|
|3. Anti-Oxidant Vitamins: an Introduction||19|
|4. Vitamin A and Beta Carotene||27|
|5. Vitamin C: Should You Bother to Take It?||43|
|6. Folic Acid, Niacin, Selenium, Zinc and Iron||55|
|A Critique of the Second Reader’s Digest Article, VITAMIN TRUTHS & LIESCover Story: The Vitamin Scam, Reader’s Digest, April, 2010 (by Christie Aschwanden)|
|7. A Multivitamin Can Make Up for a Bad Diet (And who says they can?)||73|
|8. Myth: Vitamin C is a cold fighter (This is a myth according to whom?)||81|
|9. Myth: Vitamin pills can prevent heart disease (Is it really a myth?)||87|
|10. Myth: Taking vitamins can protect against cancer (But is this the right question?)||109|
|11. Those Anti-Vitamin Articles Just Keep on Coming! (new for our 2nd ed.)||129|
|12. Vitamin D Research Continues to Intrigue and Enlighten (new for our 2nd ed.)||139|
|13. Conclusion: Misdirection, Misinformation and Public Relations: They Just Go so Well Together!||159|
|Appendix A: Environmental Factors in Cancer Causation||189|
Forward to the New Edition
Since the first edition of this book was written in 2011, not much has changed on how the mainstream media covers the topic of vitamins and other nutritional supplements. The mainstream media still can’t wrap its ‘brain’ around the concept that vitamins have numerous positive health benefits. We can assume, of course, that such vitamins are taken in the proper amounts, in balance with other nutrients or supplements, and of course, in conjunction with a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle!
Let’s consider just a sampling of negative vitamin articles that have appeared since 2011 and give a brief synopsis as to why they’re off base or just plain wrong.
THE U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT on VITAMINS, FEBRUARY, 2012
One negative vitamin article was in a 2012 online issue of the U.S. News and World Report and authored by Anna Miller, (02/24) and entitled: Popular but Dangerous: 3 Vitamins That Can Hurt You. If you take a vitamin pill, these warnings probably apply to you. She quotes a gastroenterologist Gerard Mullin, director of integrative gastrointestinal nutrition services at the J. Hopkins Hospital, author of The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health, who has cared for patients who allegedly developed liver fibrosis because they overdosed on vitamin A. “A lot of people don’t know it can be dangerous,” he says. “They think it fights infections.”
“They think it fights infections.” Are you kidding me? Vitamin A DOES help fight infections! Many of our readers probably learned that vitamin A is “the respiratory-tract vitamin,” perhaps back in ninth grade health science class, and that it is involved with immune system enhancement. So IF a patient (or patients), took too much vitamin A and developed liver troubles, this means, therefore, that vitamin A does NOT fight infections? What kind of logic is this? Too much can be dangerous, so the definition of vitamin A therefore changes to having “no benefits to one’s immune system”? This is just plain silly.
Now Ms. Miller quoted Dr. Mullen as saying “he has cared for patients who developed liver fibrosis because they overloaded on vitamin A.” It is well known that it is possible to overdo all fat soluble vitamins, including vitamin A. But in this present instance (or instances), were vitamin D levels also checked?
Now to be sure, a subsequent issue of the same paper, U.S. News and World Report issued a balanced critique of such writing 21.2 months later by author and columnist Michael F. Roizen.:
“The headlines that appeared would make me go to my doc with questions were I you (and my or your doc may have not read the fine print) … or maybe I’d just say to myself, “I don’t need these and stop ‘em.” And whenever new studies in this area appear, especially headline-making studies, I review ‘em in detail to see if my recommendations should change. I need to be responsive to the data, but that requires the work of reading the studies and the fine print in the studies.” “These news headlines (like “Are Multivitamins a Waste of Money?,” “Vitamins Should Be Avoided” and “Your Multivitamins aren’t Doing a D**n Thing” ) and even the editorial in one of medicines leading journals – the Annals of Internal Medi-cine – do mislead unless you are a fine-print reader. And the news headlines did not mention the fine print.” “So I wanted you to know what the fine print said so you were not misled. And so you didn’t throw those babies – your multivitamins, your vitamin D3 and four other supplements I’ll elaborate on in future blog posts – out with the bathwater.”
- PAUL OFFIT ON VITAMINS
Another article was a piece published in the Opinion page of the NY Times in 2012 and was authored by Dr. Paul Offit, the well known vaccine advocate. Entitled, “Don’t Take Your Vitamins,” this article has done a huge disservice to the millions of Americans concerned about their health and our ever-increasing “health-care” bills.
The criticisms of the ATBC and CARET studies are all addressed in Chapter 4 of this book.
Next Dr. Ott discusses a 2004 review of 14 randomized trials from the Cochrane Database. In this review, he claims that they found supplemental vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene, and a mineral, selenium, taken to prevent intestinal cancers, to have increased mortality.
The Cochrane Library arrived at such a conclusion by considering 452 studies on these aforemen-tioned vitamins, and then they threw out the 405 studies where nobody died! That left just 47 studies where subjects died from various causes, (one study was conducted on terminal heart patients, for example). From this hand-chosen group of studies, these researchers concluded that antioxidants increased mortality.
KMOV Mobile News and Ryan Jaslow on Vitamins
Back in December of 2013, a report by Ryan Jaslow appeared on the KMOV Mobile News, apparently, a news feed from the CBS News website regarding an article with the following title: Multivitamin researchers say “case is closed” after studies find no health benefits. Fairly non-ambiguous, right? This article begins with the strong sentence: “‘Enough’ with the multivitamins already.”
Mr. Jaslow quotes “three new studies,” so what were these studies? First let me say these will be discussed in greater detail in our new chapter 11, in part IV. Meanwhile, let’s give a brief critique.
The first paper referenced by Jaslow was based upon research performed at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In this report, they stated that vitamin supplements are probably useless when it comes to preventing heart disease and/or cancer.
The second paper referenced by Jaslow was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, December 16, 2013, and this looked at cognitive health and whether long-term use of multivitamins would have any effect. Researchers assigned almost 5,950 male doctors aged 65 and older to take either a daily multivitamin or placebo for 12 years in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.
Based on the results of memory tests, the researchers found the MV did nothing to slow cognitive decline among men 65 and older compared to placebo takers. “These data do not provide support for use of multivitamin supplements in the prevention of cognitive decline,” wrote the authors, led by Dr. Francine Grodstein, an epidemiologist from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. In brief, there are many nutrients necessary for cognitive health—even hydration is important in the elderly, however, we should not expect a cheap MV to make much difference in cognitive abilities at all!
The third item referenced by Jaslow was based upon an editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine, from the week of December 16th. In this journal, referenced in many news reports the following day, there was an editorial entitled, “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.”
So what of the December 16th study imploring us to not ‘waste our money’ on supplements? Turns out that they “screened” more than 12,760 study abstracts and then chose a total of 26 studies for their analysis. By my calculator, 26 of 12,760 studies is 0.2 percent of the total. I contend that anyone wanting to bash vitamins can choose 1/5th of a percent of thousands of studies and prove whatever they want. Wouldn’t you agree? The flaws in the referenced studies in this editorial are unbelievable and are explained throughout this book.
Of course, who could forget that negative article from Time Magazine, “Want to Stay Healthy? Don’t Rely on Vitamins” by Alexandra Sifferlin from the November 11th, 2013 edition of Time Magazine. Let’s quote the very first sentence: “Americans spend nearly $12 billion each year on vitamin supplements, hoping they will steer us away from diseases like cancer and heart attacks. But it turns out they’re just a drain on our wallets.”
This is just nonsense and I think it is a drain on your wallet in many instances, if you consume conventional medicine. Isn’t spending nearly $8,000 per year on conventional medicine and getting the often lousy outcomes we get…a “drain on our wallets”? People are spending a few hundred per year on dietary supplements because they are dissatisfied with conventional medicine, both because it IS so expensive and also because in many instances, the results are below the level of patient expectations.
The selection process was bad enough, but another problem with this selection process is that ALL the studies chosen had nutrient intakes at levels around or below the F.D.A.’s recommended intakes of nutrients! For vitamin D, for example, it was around 100 I.U. per day, a ridiculously low standard! (The RDA for Vitamin D is 400 I.U./day. Many advanced-level practitioners recommend 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 or more I.U. per day of vitamin D, to raise 25OH-D serum levels to the appropriate and helpful ranges.) 100 I.U. will have zero health benefits and will not make the slightest dent in changing blood levels to within ranges that reflects optimum health or disease resistance.
Selected for inclusion were studies looking at the following supplements’ effects on heart disease or cancer: Multivitamins, Vitamins A, C, D and E, Beta Carotene, Folic Acid and Calcium.
Now if taking the exact “correct” dose of a drug (say an antibiotic for an infection, for example), is so very important, why is it “fine” to take totally useless doses of all these important nutrients and call it a massive study?” Even worse, how can you then publish these studies and call it science or research?
As this book will illustrate throughout, these studies do NOT refute the health benefits of supplements, but do prove that hatchet jobs continue to be done on vitamins and other nutritional supplements as they’ve been done since vitamins were discovered, decades ago.
It should be noted that Dr. Albert Saul, wrote a detailed rebuttal of this group of studies from the Annals of Internal Medicine and noted the following positive studies that were apparently ignored by Ryan Jaslow and the authors he was quoting. (There will be more on this topic in our new chapter 11, ahead.)
- JAMA2012: Multivitamin supplements were found to reduce cancer risk by eight percent.
- International Journal of Cancer2011: A mere 10 ng/ml increase in serum vitamin D levels was associated with a 15 percent reduction in colorectal cancer incidence and 11 percent reduction in breast cancer incidence.
- American Heart Journal2011: Each 20 micromole/liter (µmol/L) increase in plasma vitamin C was associated with a nine percent reduction in heart failure mortality. According to Dr. Saul, if everyone were to take 500 mg of vitamin C per day—the dose required to reach a healthy level of 80 µmol/L—an estimated 216,000 lives could be spared each year.
- International Journal of Cancer2011: While the NBC declared that “Vitamin E does no good at all in preventing cancer or heart disease,” this study found that gamma-tocotrienol, a cofactor found in natural vitamin E preparations, decreases prostate tumor formation by a respectable 75 percent.
- Internt’l Journal of Cancer 2008: 300 IUs of vitamin E daily, reduced lung cancer risk by 61 percent.
So before you throw all your dietary supplements in the garbage, you might rest assured that you are likely not wasting your money. Far from it, you are probably enhancing your health, if you are also following a few sensible lifestyle suggestions like exercising daily and eating right.
I hope you find value in this book and thanks for buying this second edition—regular or on-line!
“The Vitamin MYTH,” by Neena Samuel, a cover story in the November 2007 issue of the Reader’s Digest, is a provocative article. Actually, the title changed from the cover to “The Vitamin Hoax”—10 Not to Take,” inside the magazine, so the writer definitely wanted to get across the idea that vitamins are either a hoax or a myth—take your pick. Occasionally, it will be referred to as RD article #1 for shorthand.
Not to be outdone was an article in their April, 2010 issue: “Vitamin Truths & Lies” by Christie Aschwanden. This article may be referred to as RD article #2, on occasion.
The purpose of this book is to examine these two Reader’s Digest articles and explore some rational objections in detail. Since the cover title in article #1 directly indicated “10 Not to Take,” it will be not only informative, but shocking to learn what these ten supplements are. Nine out of the ten are essential nutrients! (All nutrients are “essential” to human nutrition, but not all dietary supplements are nutrients. Some supplements are good for you without being absolutely necessary to human nutrition. Lycopene is a dietary supplement with positive benefits for the eyes, for example, but it’s not an essential nutrient.)
Meanwhile, do not think that I intended to pick on Reader’s Digest for any particular reason. Many major magazines print nonsense and misinformation regarding dietary supplements, and on a consistent basis at that. The purpose of this book is to refute all such negative articles and this book covers all the basics, so it really does not matter WHAT negative vitamin article you’re reading. This book will likely help you to refute that one too.
So use this book to help you on this mission: To teach you how to think more deliberately on the subject of vitamins and how they might enhance your health as well. Also, while refuting ridiculous claims and silly arguments, you might enjoy reading this book at the same time. And like the United Airlines company that may use United Breaks Guitars as a creative way to teach their employees how not to treat customers’ luggage, perhaps RD might use this book to teach their journalists how not to write a articles bashing vitamin supplements!
The whole question of “little oversight” is one commonly made by vitamin bashers. While there is varying quality between different vitamin brands, the FDA has complete authority to remove any misbranded products, including vitamins, from the marketplace. On the other hand, there are some problems with the herbal and vitamin industry and this has to do with variations of product quality from brand to brand and sometimes lack in consistency with regards to potency of the product when compared to what’s actually in the product. So yes, there is room for improvements in this industry, that’s for sure. But products in all categories of things vary from brand to brand (and between the same brands), so the vitamin industry is no exception. Nonetheless, the vitamin industry does need to work on improving quality control.
A better question might be how the Food and Drug Administration has betrayed the public trust by allowing so many dangerous drugs onto the American market place and why they don’t enforce the regulations that are already on the books. In defense of the Food and Drug Administration, it has often been said that this agency is woefully underfunded, so an “easier” target (and to make the public think they’re working for their interests), they go after vitamin and herbal companies. Shockingly, they even go after cherry growers for making claims that their products can help fight arthritis! So when Vioxx (an anti-inflammatory prescription drug), was proven to have caused over 55,000 deaths, the FDA looked the other way, but when cherry growers just want to merely report “studies have shown that cherries can fight inflammation as well as some anti-inflammatory drugs” (a fact), twenty-seven letters of reprimand went out to Michigan cherry growers! The walnut growers of America have also been told they can’t report on accurate research showing walnuts to be healthy for our cardiovascular systems, or their product—a nut—would have to be labeled as a drug (and go through the laborious AND expensive drug approval process)!
Reader’s Digest article #1 goes on to discuss the wonderful job Consumer Labs is doing in finding companies that don’t make their vitamins up to snuff, (or accurately label them as the case may be). Chapter 2 will be an analysis of the objectivity with which Consumer Labs apparently goes about its work and interesting details about their normal methods of operating.
Paragraph one laments the popularity of vitamins as exemplified by searching vitamins on Google. The author goes on to note: “As you navigate the maze of (web) sites, you see phrases claiming vitamin supplements can “increase energy,” “stimulate brain function” and “improve sex drive.” There are promises of “reversing cancer” and “removing plaque” from your arteries. And then she goes on to write that “It all helps explain why Americans shell out $7.5 billion a year on vitamins, hoping to pro-long life, slow aging and protect against a bevy of illnesses.”
Notice the choice of words: “shell out.” We’re not investing in our health—we’re “shelling out” billions. The term is clearly derogatory and the implication is that one is primarily wasting their money. This question will not be addressed in one sentence, but throughout this entire book. Perhaps one could think of vitamin purchases this way: “Johnny purchased xyz supplement/s because he was concerned about his exorbitant medical bills and wanted to take personal responsibility for his health by becoming proactive and working to become healthier!” He had learned that modern medicine was significantly failing in making (or keeping) him healthy and wanted to try something that worked to eliminate the cause or causes of his respective health problems, and not simply mask their symptoms, as do the vast majority of drugs and so many treatments in the marketplace today.” (Was that a run-on sentence or what?) The expected clincher occurs in paragraph number two: “But new research not only refutes many of these claims, it also shows that some of these vitamins may in fact be harmful.”
The three partial references are as follows (the RD article author did not give complete references).
- “A February report in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found that taking anti-oxidant vitamins actually increased a person’s risk of dying by up to sixteen percent.” The flaws in this study will be discussed in Chapter 1.
- “A study by researchers at the University of Washington last May found that high doses of vitamin E taken over ten years slightly elevated lung cancer risk in smokers.” The flaws in this study will be addressed in chapter 9.
- “Researchers at the National Cancer Institute found that men who took more than one multi-vitamin daily had a higher risk of advanced prostate cancer.” The flaws in this study will be addressed in chapter 1.
After these three poorly conceived, executed and biased studies were mentioned came the “Anti-oxidant PARADOX” a claim that in “forty-seven randomized trials involving almost 181,000 adults, researchers found that taking vitamins A, beta-carotene and E, along or in combination, actually increased a person’s risk of dying by up to sixteen percent.”
The flaws in this grouping of forty-seven studies, (“carefully selected” studies out of 620!), into one ‘mega-study’ will be both discussed and thoroughly refuted in chapter 1.
The RD article section entitled “C Is for COLDS” cites nothing new—the same “popular myth” nonsense that has been making the rounds since Linus Pauling published his best-selling Vitamin C and the Common Cold in 1970. This myth claim is repeated in the second RD article as well. But since the myth that vitamin C is, well “a myth” against the common cold keeps appearing in print, this subject will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 8. Keep in mind that Linus Pauling was correct in his assessment back in 1970 and more poorly done—even numerous poorly done studies since then—doesn’t change the facts.
Ms. Samuel’s next topic is entitled “Dosage Dangers.” Keep in mind that there are no references cited and that the two examples cited are weak: She specifically sites vitamin E and niacin. Most vitamin E takers know that vitamin E thins the blood and that caution needs to be exercised if you’re on blood thinning medications. But her opprobrium against vitamin E ignores the bigger question: Which is more dangerous: Taking vitamin E to thin your blood or taking blood thinning drugs? Perhaps some that have taken Xarelto, might have wished they stuck with vitamin E what with all those Xarelto lawsuits pilling up!
The concern Ms. Samuel’s raises is a valid one, since some folks may take garlic, ginger, nattokinase, gingko biloba, fish oil pills, flax seed oil and/or vitamin E supplements and also take blood thinning drugs. Any doctor prescribing these drugs, (assuming they spent the time to talk to their patients about this subject in the first place), should ask their patient if they were on any of the aforementioned supplements, including vitamin E. (And the patient might ask, “Why is this drug, with a plethora of proven side effects, (and usually at a much greater expense), preferable to a safe and essentially harmless dietary supplement?” After all, it’s not like anyone is suing a vitamin E or gingko biloba supplement maker for causing excessive bleeding after taking their preparations!
Ms. Samuel then goes on to note that many foods are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals and that if you “eat enough of these products and take a few pills, you could be overdosing.” She then states that “Though rare, bad side effects and even deaths do happen from a vitamin overdose, reports show.” What reports? And how much overdosing of vitamins are we getting from excessive consumption of power bars, fortified milk shakes and vitamin enriched juice? Where’s the evidence or documentation? How does this look in real numbers? Let’s try our hand at a simple chart, duplicated below:
|Deaths from nutritional supplements over the previous 27 years||Deaths from properly prescribed drugs over the previous 27 years|
|zero confirmed deaths||over 2,700,000|
Nearly three million is a bigger number than zero, isn’t it? But isn’t it true that this “unregulated industry” (vitamins), is dangerous in some way? It would seem to the casual reader that there IS the intention of creating a negative image about vitamins in the mind of the reader. “Unregulated” might bring to mind the oil industry, at least in so far as the regulation (or lack thereof), of deep water drilling. The financial industry is also one in which one might think of “lack of regulation” or “deregulation” as a negative thing. It would seem that this is also the intent of those who use this phrase, “unregulated vitamin industry.” Oops…that must be wrong, the drug industry is regulated and they kill over 100,000 people each year. How could the regulated industry kill so many more than the unregulated industry? Sounds like we have a bit of “sleight of hand” (or distraction) going on here, doesn’t it?
According to a comprehensive investigation published in Life Extension in 2004, entitled Death by Medicine, there are over 780,000 deaths each year from our current paradigm of allopathic medicine of which over 100,000 are from prescription drugs alone. Deaths from vitamins over the previous 27 years was analyzed by Andrew Saul and Jagan N. Vaman, M.D. and published in the June 14, 2011 issue of the Orthomolecular News Service. Entitled “No Deaths from Vitamins—None at All in 27 Years” shows an amazing contrast between public perception and reality. So the number in the above box on the right could have been “Death by Modern Medicine,” nearly three million over 27 years while there have been zero documented deaths by vitamins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also lent support to the extremely safe nature of dietary supplements when they reported in 2008, not only zero deaths for any vitamin, but also zero deaths from any mineral, herb or amino acid. One might ask themselves with regards to such an amazing contrast between deaths from dietary supplements versus death from modern medicine, why these facts (and stark contrasts), haven’t been reported by the mainstream media to the American people?
In part II, eight of the ten supplements that were denigrated by RD article #1 will receive special attention with background information on the nutrient in question, what it does in the human body generally, how likely deficiencies are in America and reasons supplementation might be a wise choice.
Part III, Chapters 7-10 will address the serious flaws in Reader’s Digest “Vitamin Truths & Lies,” from their April 2010 issue. The chapter titles speak for themselves.
It is important that the reader understand that we should not be trying to get most of our necessary nutrients from vitamin pills. As much as possible of our daily nutrition, in fact, should be received from the foods we eat! But as we’re telling folks to eat better quality diets, we could also be stating that “folks should heal their illnesses with food, not drugs!” As the astute reader no doubt is aware, there are many books teaching Americans how to become healthier without the use of drugs. So it is true that we should try our best to get our nutrients from food. However, this is apparently not happening in America today. Maybe it should happen but it’s not happening, at least not at the time of this writing.
Meanwhile, it is true that some folks take supplements they may not need to take. And also, some people take too many or take the wrong forms or forms that don’t get absorbed well. So for best results, it would behoove the conscientious reader to get professional advice from their knowledgeable health-care practitioner regarding which supplements to take, how often and in what amounts.
Another purpose of this book is to explore why so many different writers in so much of the main-stream media are working hard to demonize vitamins and associated nutritional supplements. Organizations like “Quack Busters” have made this a veritable cottage industry. Major national magazines help with the onslaught against vitamins and nutritional supplements with articles such as those being criticized in this book.
If the reader understood more on the subject of public relations or propaganda, they could better understand this entire subject of supplement bashing. Perhaps you had no idea how much public relations had to do with what is and isn’t printed, (or is viewed on television or in the movies for that matter). If this is true for you, welcome to the world of science by PR. It is a downright shocking development and if you’re searching for the truth in all subjects, not just nutrition, it would behoove you, (the intelligent reader), to always question the motives behind what is printed, why it is being printed, who wrote it, who paid to have it written, their background, who benefits by having such and such an article written, and so forth. This is discussed in greater detail in Chapter 13.
DIETARY CHALLENGES FOR ALL AMERICANS
Here are other reasons Americans are NOT getting adequate nutrients from their diets today:
- We eat too many nutrient-poor foods like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, soda, cakes, cookies, pies, croissants, muffins, bagels, donuts, white rice, white bread and white pasta,
- We eat insufficient quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables at all ages. And finally,
- The produce—fruits and vegetables, if eaten at all—often contains lower amounts of nutrients than they otherwise would, if they were grown differently. In other words, because of intensive and foolish agricultural practices, our foods simply do NOT contain the vitamins and minerals that ought to be present! Much has been written on this subject in the literature for ‘health-conscious folks,’ so this might not be strange news to you.
So we eat too many nutrient-poor foods and when we do eat foods that are supposed to be nutrient-rich, the nutrients are often not there in the quantities that should be there. More precisely, they’re not there in the amounts nature intended them to be. Now national (and idiotic) “food disparagement laws” may try to prevent you from learning these facts, but they are facts, just the same.
In short, this book should serve as a primer on how not to write articles criticizing vitamins. And if you need a way to address other “vitamin bashing articles” this book might be a fun place to start.
Toxic environmental exposures also challenge our health in many ways while at the same time, increasing our risks of neurological and other degenerative diseases. One of the major degenerative diseases caused by this onslaught of toxic environmental chemicals is cancer. And this risk remains even if we have a good diet or take various dietary supplements. This topic is addressed, in detail, in Appendix A. This is the topic that should be covered by the mainstream media, not the (alleged) dangers of dietary supplements!
 Cheruvattath R, et al., Vitamin A toxicity: when one a day doesn’t keep the doctor away. Liver Transpl. 2006 Dec;12(12):1888-91.
 Roizen, Michael F.; Misleading News on Multivitamins: How Media Missed the Value of Supplements, U.S. News and World Report, online edition, December 30, 2013.
 Adams, Mike, The Health Ranger: Vitamins A, C and E Increase Mortality! (and other nonsense from the realm of junk science); Natural News, 04/16/08
 Jaslow, Ryan, Multivitamin researchers say “case is closed” after studies find no health benefits; CBS News, online edition, posted December 17, 2013
 Annals of Internal Medicine, November 12, 2013
 United Breaks Guitars: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31836977/ns/travel-news
 Richards, Byron J., FDA, Fight For Your Health: Exposing the FDA’s Betrayal of America, Truth Publishing, 2007.
 As Xarelto Lawsuits Mount, Defendants Oppose Consolidation of Federally-Filed Claims, Bernstein Liebhard LLP Reports; Nov 04, 2014, www.xareltolawsuit2015.com
 Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN. Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. JAMA, Apr 15; Vol. 279(15):1200-5,1998.
 The explosion at an oil rig leased by BP on April 20, 2010, 48 miles off the Louisiana coast, might come to mind.
 Null, Gary, et. al, Death by Medicine, March, 2004 report from Life Extension Magazine, also available here: www.lef.org/magazine/mag2004/mar2004_awsi_death_01.htm
 Bailey, Herbert, Food is Your Best Medicine, 1965; See also Robbins, John, Diet for a New America, 1977 and Diamond, Harvey and Marilyn, Fit for Life, 1980.
 Hall, Ross Hume, Food for Naught: The Decline in Nutrition, Vintage Books, 1980.
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